How We Teach & Promote Argentine Tango

... Tango Awareness, that is.

1. We play only traditional Argentine Tango music AND we only dance to this music.

2. We teach our students to dance counter-clockwise, in one lane, and to not pass other couples (unless absolutely necessary – and NEVER on the right side of a couple) AND we dance with these proper floor skills.

3. We teach our students to keep their feet on the ground as much as possible AND we keep our feet on the ground as much as possible.

4. We do not teach ganchos or other unnecessary movements AND we don’t dance with these kinds of movements.

5. We teach social and improvised Tango that is conducive to dancing on a milonga floor AND we dance a social and improvised Tango.

6. We teach the “cabeceo” (reminding our students that it is done from your seat and not at the corner of the woman’s table) AND we actually use it.

7. As teachers, when we go to Buenos Aires, we go as students ready to learn more. We take classes, we learn more about the music, we dance socially, and we live Tango.

8. We teach our students about the music and the importance of it. We tell them which orchestra/singer/era will be playing during the class. We even remind our students that they should not embrace until the song has begun in order to develop a feeling for what is being played.

9. We teach our students that a “cortina” is a small piece of non-Tango music used to CLEAR the floor between “tandas” and no one should dance to the “cortina” or remain on the floor during this time.

10. We tell our students to go out dancing, to dance with various partners… but we also let our students know that they are allowed to decline dances for whatever reason.

*Although we teach and promote these concepts (and more) with the hope that we’re positively influencing our students, we are often reminded that people will eventually make their own choices – for better or for worse.

About Movement Invites Movement

We are relatively young Argentine Tango dancers and teachers who are married both to each other and the dance. We truly found Tango after making an 8-month Tango pilgrimage to Buenos Aires and we are using this blog to share our thoughts and feelings about our Tango experiences. We are not aspiring authors and our writing skills are questionable, but we write our truth. View all posts by Movement Invites Movement

28 responses to “How We Teach & Promote Argentine Tango

  • tangocorazon

    It is so nice to hear that other people are doing this! Yay!

  • judiebe

    I love that you practice what you preach, so to speak. Teaching by example is very important in all areas, in my opinion. Good post!

  • AlexTangoFuego

    ya mean no dancing tango to Bach or “Freebird”!? (grin…keep up the good work…)

  • Tango Salon Adelaide

    No rude shocks for your students when they visit a traditional Buenos Aires milonga for the first time!

  • Johan Steyn

    I wish every city had teachers like this – especially when it comes to teaching floorcraft and the democratic, balanced practice of cabeceo.

  • michaelbede

    Great to hear. Keep up the good work.

  • jantango

    Thanks for your efforts to keep tango alive as a social dance in your city.

  • Bill in Oz

    Ahhhhh. the 10 COMMANDMENTS of CLASSICAL ERA TANGO ! So ‘of the past’. But the world has moved on. Time has passed since the classical era of Argentine tango. The musicians ( and the dancers) who lived in that time are now aged or dead.

    It’s nice to visit that time but I do not live there.. Nor often dance there.

    There are excellent musicians composing & playing tango now – new music. ( And yes there are awful ones too.)

    There are a range of tango dance ‘styles’ ..some more distantly evolved from classical era tango and some more closely related.

    And how I dance tango depends on the music being played and how crowded the milonga at the time. Simple courtesy requires not using flashy tango moves in a social tango dance context.

    There is a time and place for everything under Heaven :
    A time for Salon;
    A time for Nuevo;
    A time for Apilado
    A time for open embrace

    Bill In Oz

  • jantango

    Traditions remain for those of us who aren’t dancing in Fantasyland.

  • tangopilgrim

    There is a time and place for everything under Heaven:

    a time for a beer
    a time for a steak
    a time for opera
    a time for salsa
    a time for ballroom
    a time for ARGENTINE tango.

  • Bärbel Rücker | Tanzbar

    Thank you for sharing your ideas!

    As a tango dancer, teacher & DJ myself I am glad to read, that you are aware of the music while teaching. Most of the students haven’t listened to tango music before they enter the tango class room, but they have listened to other kind of music all their life. Tango music from the late 20th, 30th & 40th, even from the 50th, is “dance music”. It gives so much inspiration, help and pleasure to the dancers, but they need to open up their ears, mind & heart to it.
    Therefore keep on playing, talking and explaining about the traditional tango music in your classes and your community!

    Many greetings from Copenhagen, Denmark,
    Bärbel Rücker | Tanzbar
    Argentine Tango | Tango Teacher & Tango DJ

  • neymelo

    Reblogged this on Ney Melo.

  • neymelo

    Reblogged this on Ney Melo.

  • David Turner

    Your teaching philosophy is so dear to my heart. Rarely have I found the excellent principles you stand for so complete and so very well put. Now retired from teaching, I too stood for all these principles against a tide of what seemed to be a ‘something for nothing’ mentality. Many of my pupils wanted what tango offers but only on their terms and without work or discipline. They bandied the word ‘nuevo’ about but it always seemed to me that they wanted merely to move the goalposts wider for an easier goal

    For me, tango is so important that I want to tell the whole world about it but, sadly,all around me I find people attempting to dumb it down and by stripping away all that is traditional and fine about it, turn it into something crass and cheap. Those traditions that have kept tango so relevant for those who find it works like oxygen did not arrive overnight and for no reason.

  • ValleyTango

    If we look at tango more as an art form or a specialized craft I think the ‘old-fashioned’ argument has no merit. Tango will evolve but respect and knowledge of the past needs to be heeded.

    • Movement Invites Movement

      That’s a great distinction to make. We do not see Tango as an “art form” – we see it as a social dance within a rich historical and cultural context.

      • David Turner

        I agree. Only the stage shows are an art form; another form of contemporary ballet, Fun, but when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
        The sort of tango you and i are talking about is a universal language that has always been able to bond a man and a woman and communities. It’s not a dead language like Latin so it does evolve but just as I would be perfectly able to chat to my great great grandfather were he alive, I could exit my time machine and enter the Sunderland Club in 1932 and dance.

  • poesiadegotan

    Just as classically trained actors continue to perform Shakespeare’s timeless plays, and audiences continue to attend and be moved, so too I think that the Golden Age tango shall be danced and felt for many years to come. Bravo!

  • Dimitris D.

    Too many musts in there. Too many rules. Some of them come from a time that they made sence, and were there because they made sence. Why would you still follow them if you find them constricting? I dance tango because I like the music (yes that golden age music) and want to express it. If I feal that a voleo expresses the music and I have the space to lead it why should I not? Because it’s a flashy move and we don’t do it in milongas in order to not hit the other dancers? But I’m in the corner, or the floor is half empty. So what purpose does that rule serve? At the time it just hinders me of having a nice time.
    When I am at a club where milongas are usually held now, and the lights are dim and the people are mingled close together and I know the follower, why must I use the cabeceo? Or more corectly, why must I strugle to use it?
    When I dj for owr milonga, why must I ignore the wish of the dancers, especially the younger ones, who like a nuevo or even non tango tanda mixed in there. Why must I rob them of the moment they hear the first notes and get exited, because that is a song they know and want to dance it. There are plenty golden age tandas on the way, befoare and after this one. But together with learning music that is knew to them, shouldn’t they also have a nice time? It’s their night out.
    Don’t get me wrong. I do most of the things you describe. Yes I only dance to golden age, because I love the style, it is the one that makes me want to dance. Yes if the floor is packed and it usually is, I just walk and I really like doing just that. Yes many times I will use the cabeceo and it is fun in a way.
    But all these I do because and when they make sence to me. Not just because.

    • Movement Invites Movement

      Thanks Dimitris, for your reply.

      Please note that there are no “musts” in this post. No one else “must” do what we do. This is the way WE teach and promote Argentine Tango. It also doesn’t mean that some of our “rules” aren’t broken at times. Although, we never break the rule where traditional Tango music is concerned. Your post has triggered an upcoming post. Stay tuned for “Watered-Down”.

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